People come from across the country to ride their bicycles along the rural, rolling roads in Iowa County. County officials, however, said they want to better regulate organized rides, which is causing a stir in the cycling world.
Problems have been brewing with organized bike rides for about five years. Residents complain about traffic congestion, among other things.
So, the Iowa County Board is proposing an ordinance that would require permits for special events needing highway access. It would require organizers notify residents about planned rides, secure county approval, and take out a $4 million insurance policy.
Iowa County highway commissioner Craig Hardy said between 100 and 1,000 bicyclists can a show up on any given day. He said only about one-third of ride organizers communicate with the county ahead of time. Hardy said this is problematic, since they have to coordinate with law enforcement to shut down intersections.
“The goal is not elimination, the goal is cooperation. We want to educate, make people more aware, and increase safety. The issue is not that Iowa County is anti-bicycling. The issue is that organizers don’t take responsibility for their events and they should,” he said.
The Wisconsin Bike Fed opposes the ordinance. Spokesman Dave Schlabowske said many rides do not require roads to be shut down, so no permit is needed. He said if rides became more regulated, it would affect bicycle tourism in the area.
“We’ve been talking to a number of ride organizers and they’ve said very clearly that these onerous requirements would either eliminate their ride or force them to hold their events in other areas," he said.
Iowa County’s transportation committee will discuss the ordinance at its meeting Monday night.